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On Wednesday, October 6, Axios transportation correspondent Joann Muller discussed how the autonomous vehicle industry is preparing for commercial deployment, expanding accessibility and impacting the critical movement of goods, featuring Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and John Deere chief technology officer Jahmy Hindman

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers explained her hopes for an AV national framework, America’s opportunity to be a leader in AV innovation, and what regulation of assisted driving technologies could eventually look like.     

  • On a lack of congressional preparedness for AV deployment: “I believe that it’s a missed opportunity right now as Congress is debating infrastructure packages as this technology is ready. I believe in order for America to lead and win this race around autonomous vehicles, which is certainly a priority for me, that we should be moving right now to provide that national framework for autonomous vehicles.”
  • On the industrial significance of AV technology: “You think about the transformation that’s going to take place. We are going to move to driverless cars, it is our future. It may be as big as when we move from horse and buggy to the first Model T Ford back when, but this is going to be transformative and America needs to be leading.”

Jahmy Hindman detailed the history of automated technology use in tractors, why automation is especially helpful for the farming industry, and the importance of monitoring the quality of automated machines’ output. 

  • On historical applications of automation in farming: “Twenty years ago we introduced satellite guidance on our machines. Today, it might surprise some people, tractors, combines and sprayers in our agricultural applications largely drive themselves through the field based upon that satellite guidance signal that they’re receiving.”
  • On how autonomy helps offset labor shortages: “Autonomy presents us the opportunity to sort of decouple labor from the machine usage from actually getting the work done within the farm and to reduce their dependency upon what is becoming an increasingly scarce resource, the labor that they need in order to perform the work that they do.”

Axios Chief Business Officer Fabricio Drumond hosted a View from the Top segment with Aurora CEO and co-founder Chris Urmson, who explained how the autonomous vehicle industry is preparing for deployment. 

  • “From day one, we’ve engaged it at the federal level and the state level to help educate about where Aurora is going, what this technology means, why it’s important, what the challenges are, so that as this becomes a commercial product and out there operating at scales, people aren’t surprised and we can be thoughtful about the U.S. approach to regulation and engagement in the industry.”

Thank you Aurora for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Updated Oct 19, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A Hard Truths event on the tech industry

On Tuesday, October 19th, Axios Editor-in-Chief Sara Kehaulani Goo and chief technology correspondent Ina Fried examined the current inequities within hiring practices, workplace culture and development in the tech industry today, featuring Girls Who Code CEO Dr. Tarika Barrett and TechEquity Collaborative founder & CEO Catherine Bracy.

Dr. Tarika Barrett explained how to engage and empower young girls to learn tech skills, how the pandemic exacerbated access to educational tools, and how big tech companies can address the industry’s gender gap.

  • On empowering the next generation of tech leaders: “Having more representation of women and people of color in tech in particular, can actually be the difference we need to empower a pipeline of young people and girls of color to pursue the tech careers of the future.”
  • On the gender gap in the tech industry: “As we are simultaneously addressing this growing gender gap in tech and trying to prepare our girls and young women for these thriving, exciting careers of the future, we also know that it’s within an industry that continues to sometimes be the source of negative news and troubling instances of discrimination.”

Catherine Bracy highlighted how tech platforms and their business models affect the broader economic well-being of a community, and the importance of improving working conditions for different tiers of workers at tech companies.

  • On inequities for contracted employees at tech companies: “We have done research that shows that not only are they treated differently because of labor laws and whatever else, but they are also more likely to be members of underrepresented minority groups.”
  • On how tech companies can better support contracted workers: “We do think that if they’re going to contract out, that they should ensure with the vendors that they’re using to provide this workforce, that those workers have an equal level of protection, benefits, stability as their full-time workforce. I feel like that’s the least that they can do.”

Axios Chief People Officer Dominique Taylor hosted a View from the Top segment with Goldman Sachs Chief Operating Officer for Global Investment Research Gizelle George-Joseph, who spoke about how structural barriers affect labor market opportunities for minority communities.

  • “We talk about education, and six decades after Brown vs. Board of Education, 70% of Black students still attend a school where the majority of students are non-white. All of these have really broad repercussions for Black women and very large negative impacts on college graduation rates, on the labor market, and ultimately on our life outcomes.”

Thank you Goldman Sachs for sponsoring this event.

Rahm Emanuel questioned on murder of Laquan McDonald in confirmation hearing

Rahm Emanuel during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Oct. 20. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke about the murder of Laquan McDonald during his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday to become the U.S. ambassador to Japan, saying that "there's not a day or a week that has gone by in the last seven years I haven't thought about this."

Catch up quick: McDonald was a Black teenager who was fatally shot 16 times by Chicago police during Emanuel's tenure as the city's mayor. The 2014 shooting triggered massive protests, both because of its nature and the fact that the officers' body-cam footage was concealed for years.

3 hours ago - World

Biden's ambassador nominee: "China is not an Olympian power"

Nick Burns testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee to serve as ambassador to China delivered a stark assessment of the challenges the U.S. faces in confronting Beijing, but stressed that the rising superpower is "not all-powerful" and the West retains "substantial" advantages.

The big picture: Nicholas Burns, a retired career diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to NATO, used his confirmation hearing Wednesday to echo the growing bipartisan consensus that China poses "the greatest threat to the security of our country and the democratic world" in the 21st century.